One of the most critical phases of the teacher interview is the lesson observation. This is normally one lesson, where the Head of department gives you a topic to teach a group of students. Make sure you are following these 5 best practices to guarantee you get through to the interview and questions in the afternoon.
1. Know EVERYTHING you possibly can about WHO you are teaching:
Common sense right? But how many times will you arrive and find that the lesson observation you have spent all night preparing for is pitched at the wrong level? Too high and the students wont get it, too low and the students will become bored and start losing focus.
How do you make sure that your lesson observation is accurately pitched? Call the school, speak with the Head, head of department or the regular class teacher. Have 5 key questions to cover all aspects of the lesson you are planning on delivering. What is the students current knowledge or technique base? Have the students got the basic skills and understanding to be able to take part in a more challenging lesson? If not, stick to the basics first, underpin this quickly and accurately, then move on to the more advanced work.
2. Are there any SPECIFIC student needs?
How many times have you had a lesson observation go astray simply because you have a student who has specific needs take up 80% of your time? Yes, we have all been there! Frustrating isn’t it to think that if you had been forewarned then you could have ready for this student to cater for them. Make sure you ask, are their any specific needs within the group? Low ability? Advanced learners? Specifically which students do I need to make better preparations for? The current class teacher will know this better than anyone. Make sure you do too.
Differentiation, we all teach mixed ability groups, and a teaching lesson observation will be NO different. How wide is this spectrum of knowledge? Hopefully not too broad. Would you be able to buddy up and develop a peer assessment/learning lesson where the more able help the less able? Or are you going to stay safe and have extension work? Always make sure you have enough extension work there is nothing worst than a student who completes it and there is still 10 minutes left of class? HEADACHE!!
3. Get the BASICS perfect in your lesson observation.
This is your chance to shine. Get the basics perfect. You need to consider the students entry into class, are you going to make them line up outside and wait for you? Will you already be in class waiting for them? Initial goals and setting the tone and pace of the lesson can greatly impact on the outcome. Be aware of the environment and who is on task and who is not. Up the speed of the lesson then slow it down, variety of activities will often keep students engaged.
Maintain fluidity in your discussion, presentation. Make sure you are aware of the time you spend on each question. Interact with the students, involve the entire groups and move around the entire classroom don’t be rooted at the front like a tree. Students will be very aware this which is normally a good point.
Q+A to assess their understanding and learning. Make sure you have enough time for the plenary! The plenary is just as important as the goals and start of the lesson. They allow the students the chance to say what they have learned! So don’t just get the basics right…get them perfect!
4. Make GREAT use of peer and self assessment.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. – Maimonides
Utilise the students own knowledge within your lesson observation, get them thinking and developing each others understanding of the topic and assessing one and other. Once students develop the habit of self monitoring and lifelong learning, it can progress them as a person and their ability to understand, develop ideas and other peoples strengths and knowledge.
5. Making behaviour management a POSITIVE.
If all the above is on point, this is the least of your worries, each student will be on task, working at their pace and understand the goals of the lesson fully and completely.
So what happens when the one student who doesn’t “get it” begins to misbehave. My suggestion, the student becomes your new ‘technical assistant’. Especially when you have had a quiet word and they have continued to disrupt other students learning. They could be given specific tasks in helping you with the recap of the last questions and answers. With your support you make a positive focus on their work and that you want them to understand so they too can be successful.
We could add a 6th point in the lesson observation that self assessment does not stop at the students. Be honest in your own practise. What do you think worked well and what didn’t? What would you change? and how? The Head will be impressed if you find something that they also feel was missing from your lesson observation.
All of these things can promote you as a worthy applicant to the school, smashing this preparation will not doubt give you the best opportunity to succeed. Self assessment and peer assessment open.. comment below on what else you would add to this?